Friday, August 20, 2010
I’m been driving around this week with a burning question in my mind: Why would President Obama support a Ground Zero Mosque (GZM) when it is opposed by 2/3rds of the American people? Given the unpopularity of this mosque, it is as if the driver of the Democrat party’s new limo has just steered it into a junk yard crushing machine.
I think the simplest answer is that Obama was being loyal to his Muslim-American base...not to African-Americans...not to his Democrat party...and not to the American people. I have found some supporting evidence for this thesis in an article in Politico on August 15, 2010 in which Carol E. Lee writes that an undisclosed administration official says this was “purely” Obama's decision. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0810/41077.html In Audacity of Hope, Obama writes that he is intent to assure Muslims that he will stand with them during the ultimate crisis. Apparently, Obama’s brain decided that moment has arrived.
What is missing from all the reporting on this issue is what an incredibly stupid thing this was for Obama to do in terms of electoral politics. Obama has ignited a firestorm of controversy that can only do damage to his party’s chances in November 2010 and to his own chances in November 2012. Already, Rasmussen shows Republicans opening up a 12-point lead in the generic polling results. http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/mood_of_america/generic_congressional_ballot
Obama’s job approval rating, according to Gallup, is at an all time low of 42%. On a scale of one to ten for political stupidity, Obama’s endorsement of the GZM is a ten. It is the equivalent of running toward a burning car wreck and then squeezing yourself into the trunk.
Since I knew President Obama while he was an extremist, Marxist sophomore at Occidental College, I think I have an unusual insight to share regarding this politically inept decision. Based on my face-to-face talks with the young Obama, I’m among those who do not see Obama as an intellectual genius. I’ve never gone along with those who think they can find evidence of a high IQ in Obama’s election as the editor of the Harvard Law Review, or his role as an adjunct at the University of Chicago Law School, or his success in winning office. Since I never bought into the inflated view of Obama’s intellectual skills, I was not surprised by his dependence on the teleprompter. I do, however, think I know why he has not released his undergraduate transcripts from Occidental College or Columbia University: His charismatic reputation for genius would not survive the harsh reality of his ordinary grades.
Accordingly, I’m not convinced that Obama’s endorsement of the GZM was an example of a political genius playing chess while we are all playing checkers. Instead, I see Obama’s recklessness as more similar to a funny, stupid criminal story where the bank robber submits his demand for cash on the back of his own business card. I think the stress of his job is getting to him. Under stress, Obama’s thinking has become cloudy, impulsive and irrational. Reviewing this last week, even Obama may now understand that he cannot drive and should not have the keys.
John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.
As a political scientist, I’ve always thought of Obama as a Muslim if only because I tend to categorize people by the cultural influences which impact them as children. Early influences, for example, help us predict later political party affiliations.
Surprisingly, Pew reports that the number of Americans who believe Barack Obama is a Muslim has jumped from 12% in early 2009 to 18% in 2010. Similarly, Pew reports a decline in the number of respondents who identify Obama as a Christian – 34% today compared to 48% in March 2009 and 51% during the Presidential campaign in October 2008. As usual, there is a less decisive group floating out there – adding up to a plurality of 43% - who respond that they do not know what is Obama’s religion. These undecided respondents are up from 34% in 2009.
I’m certain that if Pew telephoned me, I would have been one of the folks who said Obama was a Muslim and who would not have been given the time to fully explain what I mean.
First, I know that Obama’s step-father, Lolo Soetoro, was a practicing Muslim. According to freely available press accounts, Soetoro took little Obama with him to the mosque to pray and enrolled little Obama in school as a Muslim. Second, I know that Obama grew up in a predominantly Muslim country, Indonesia. Third, when I met the young Obama - while he was a sophomore at Occidental College - I can report that his closest friends were the Muslim students on campus, in particular, an older Pakistani student named Mohammed Hasan Chandoo. Hasan visited Obama while he was a student at Columbia and attended Obama’s wedding to Michelle in 1992, unlike the African-Americans at Occidental who now claim they were close friends with the young Obama.
As for Obama’s more contemporary connections to Islam, I pay the most attention to his words in his book, Audacity of Hope, where Obama calls into question the divinity of Christ. This is, in my view, a bright dividing line between being a Christian believer and being a Muslim adherent. I also know that Rev. Wright is a former Muslim and maintains close ties to the Muslim community. All of this information gives me confidence that Obama’s world view, his basic mental architecture, has more links to Islam than Christianity.
Nevertheless, I’m sure the media will spin the results of Pew’s poll as evidence of racism or religious intolerance or an effort to portray Obama as the “other.” My perspective, however, gives me an advantage over mainstream journalists who are puzzled about how Obama could be so completely foolish as to endorse the Ground Zero Mosque. In my view, he is simply defending his base, a base of Muslim adherents to whom Obama has shown considerable loyalty ever since he was a little child.
John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.